Year of Publication
OBJECTIVES: Individuals who prefer to communicate about health care in a language other than English (LOE) experience poorer quality medical care and challenges when communicating with health care providers. The objective of this study was to elucidate how caregivers who prefer an LOE perceive communication with their physicians on an inpatient general pediatrics service.
METHODS: Caregivers of patients admitted to the general pediatrics service at our urban freestanding children's hospital whose preferred language for medical care was Spanish, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, or Mandarin were eligible for this qualitative study. Semistructured interviews using video interpreter services were conducted to explore the participants' experiences communicating with their physicians. Interview transcripts were analyzed using conventional content analysis.
RESULTS: We interviewed 15 participants representing 7 countries of origin and 4 non-English languages: Spanish, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, and Mandarin. Three main domains emerged, including: (1) use of interpreter services, (2) overall communication experience with physician providers, and (3) suggestions for improvement in physician communication. Salient themes included early identification of the need for an interpreter is essential and physicians' use of body language in combination with an interpreter enhances successful communication.
CONCLUSIONS: This project fills a gap in existing literature by describing the perspectives of caregivers who prefer an LOE, including those speaking languages other than Spanish, because they communicate with inpatient pediatricians. In addition to ensuring appropriate use of interpreter services, physicians can focus on using plain language and gestures during encounters, helping to facilitate communication and provide culturally competent care for this population.